On Tuesday, the Baldwin County Commission passed a $209 million budget for fiscal year 2022, amounting to a budget 15 percent larger than the year before. In fact, it’s the second-largest budget the commission has ever passed, behind only the $225 million approved in 2020.
According to Budget Director Ron Cink, the coronavirus pandemic and Hurricane Sally took a chunk out of last year’s budget, resulting in a reduction of 24 percent, but 2022 focuses on “response and recovery,” as well as the continuation of several large infrastructure projects.
“Economic development remains a top priority for this commission, as well as customer services to our citizens, public safety, infrastructure and growth, and protection of the environment,” Cink said.
The general fund swelled 19.2 percent from $39.8 million in 2021 to $47.5 million in 2022. Public safety expenditures represent 19.1 percent of the total budget, but the Sheriff’s Office received flat funding over last year, at $33.6 million.
The county’s largest revenue sources are ad valorem tax at 24.9 percent or roughly $52 million, fees and charges at 17.4 percent or roughly $36 million, and sales tax at 13.4 percent or roughly $28 million. Besides public safety, other budgeted expenses include general government at $78.7 million, roads and bridges at $56.7 million and sanitation at $32.3 million.
Salaries represent 19.9 percent of the budget, Cink said, and the county currently counts 785 employees. Major projects partially or fully funded in the 2022 budget include the jail addition, an addition to the animal shelter and two county warehouses.
“The commission passed a strategic plan in 2019 or 2020 and this budget aligns with the priorities in the strategic plan,” Cink said.
In other business, the commission voted to approve a bankruptcy settlement of Mallinckrodt PLC, a drug manufacturer targeted by municipalities nationwide as part of opioid litigation. According to attorney David Conner, who is representing the county in the suit, the settlement agreement will allow plaintiffs to have partial ownership of the company and benefit from future proceeds. The company will also establish a $1.6 billion cash abatement fund and administer proceeds to local municipalities over seven years.
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